Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Scandinavian Variation

My 8th game was a painful loss against a young Singaporean boy:

Wee Che En - Sv. Johnsen

Thailand Open 2009 (8)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 a5!?

This was what I had prepared against 1.e4 for this tournament. I like to call it the Scandinavian variation but may well be the only one to do so.

10.a4 b4 11.d4 bxc3 12.bxc3 exd4 13.cxd4 (D)


This is Black's idea in the 10.a4 line. Now it looks a little like a Open Ruy Lopez with Black controlling b4.

14.e5 Ne4 15.Nbd2

15.Re3 Nb4 16.Nc3 Bb7 17.Ne2 Kh8 18.Ba3 f6 19.Nf4 Ra6 20.Bxb4 axb4 21.Bxd5 Bxd5 22.Nxd5 Qxd5 23.Qd3 Nc5 24.dxc5 Qxd3 25.Rxd3 fxe5 = Castillo-Bolbochan, Mar del Plata 1950.

15...Bf5 16.Ba3!?

I didn't remember having ever seen this move and thought it looked a little funny. But when consulting my notes I had actually analyzed a GM game with it.


The game I had analysed went 16...Nb4 17.Nf1 c5 18.Ne3 Be6 19.Bxb4 axb4 20.dxc5 Bxc5 21.Qd3 Rc8 22.Rad1 Bb6 and Black was clearly better in Hellers-Kupreichik, Malmo 1987. The big question is whether these moves ever entered my mind or if they only appeared on my screen with Rybka doing the thinking. In earlier days I always played through my notes on a chess board (frequently a pocket set but a full size board if circumstances permitted me). It is too time consuming for my present life situation, but far better for memorization.

17.Rxa3 Nb4 18.Ra1 c6

I tried to calculate 18...Nd3 19.Re3 and now I looked at 19...Ndxf2 20.Qe2 Nxd2 21.Nxd2 Ne4 as well as 19...Nexf2 20.Qe2 and decided against the entire variation as I didn't find the resulting positions particularly clear. After the game I was pleased to see that Rybka agreed in this evaluation. That being said, the move I played probably reveals my lack of understanding for this kind of positions. It seems that Black in similar positions play a quick ...c5 with active piece play. Instead I tried to stabilize the queenside, hoping to create kingside chances with ...f6 at some point. This may be sufficient for equality but demands quite exact play.

19.Qe2 Rb8 20.Rec1 h6 21.Qe3 Kh8 22.Nxe4 Bxe4 23.Nd2 Bh7 24.Rc3 Qe7 25.Bd1 f6 26.f4 fxe5 27.fxe5 Rf7 28.Nf3 Rbf8 29.Qd2 Be4 30.Be2 Rf4 31.Rf1

For the last dozen of moves I as well as my opponent have played quite decent chess. My problem was that I didn't quite appreciate my opponent's play and felt that I should be looking for an advantage. Instead my small weaknesses on a5 and c6 were slowly beginning to be felt. So rather than accepting that I had to fight for equality, I played a somewhat desperate move:


It is tempting to add another question mark as this move isn't only weakening; it's also completely unprovoked.

32.Rc5 Qc7 33.Nh2!

This move I had completely missed.

33..Rxf1+ 34.Bxf1 Rf4 35.Ng4 Qd8

Probably 35...Kg7 36.Nf6 Bg6 is a somewhat better attempt to keep my position together.

36.Nf6 Bg6 37.Be2 Qb6 38.g3 Rf5 39.Qe3! Na2? (D)

Objectively this is a losing error but as my position is creaking in its seams anyway, I only give it one question mark. Actually I considered '?!' as it forces White to calculate a fairly long line.

40.Bd3 Qb3 41.Rxa5!

This wins as does 41.Rxc6.

41...Nb4 42.Ra8+ Kg7 43.Rg8+ Kf7 44.e6+ Kxf6

44...Ke7 45.Rg7+ Kxf6 46.Rxg6+ Ke7 47.Rg7+ comes to exactly the same.

45.Rxg6+ Ke7 46.Rg7+ Ke8 47.e7!

The move I overlooked when I played 39...Na2.

47...Qd1+ 48.Kg2 1–0

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